The coffee supply chain

I maestri della tostatura media
Have you ever thought about how much work is behind a simple cup of coffee?

We are used to thinking that coffee is a common good, which we are entitled to by right. We are convinced that it is a very simple drink without any complications and we take it for granted.

All because we believe that coffee is a thing of little value; in the end it costs only one euro and it takes no more than 30 seconds to drink it.

But is this really the case? Are you really convinced that this way of looking at it is correct?

I don’t! I was the first one years ago to take coffee for granted, considering it a bitter little cup and nothing more.

But it is not so! Through my work I have been able to discover and touch an incredibly large reality, with numbers I never even imagined.

The coffee supply chain is really long: it crosses continents, oceans, states and cultures that are completely different from each other.

In fact, if you think about it, it is not possible to grow coffee in Italy, and everything we consume comes from Coffee Belt countries, that is, all the countries between the Tropic of Cancer and Capricorn.

Just to name a few we at Caffè Ernani purchase coffee from Brazil, Colombia, India, Tanzania, Costa Rica, Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, and Congo.

Every once in a while I stop and look at my espresso cup and think, “There are beans in here from as many as 5 different states and 3 different continents! This cup has been around the world!”

Moreover, obtaining good coffee is neither easy nor obvious, and woe to those who think otherwise!

As mentioned above, the coffee supply chain is very long, and each individual piece must be completed in the best possible way.

You should know that coffee is born with a certain quality, given by the variety of the plant and the surrounding environment. Everyone who processes coffee from that point on can only keep that given quality constant.
At the first mistake it drops one step and cannot be raised again later.

That said, think about how many hands touch your coffee before it gets to you: there’s the grower, the picker, the taster, the importer, the raw, the roaster, the wholesaler, the barista, the retailer, and then there’s you!

And these are just a few! Alongside are many other figures such as the consultant, trainer, sommelier, agronomist, and many more!

It’s a whole job of coordination between people who have never even seen each other, to be able to offer you a near-perfect cup.

Let me give you some very simple examples:

  • Think of the agronomist: he has devised an impeccable way to grow his plants, and then whoever is in charge of drying the coffee, before shipping it, does not stir it well, causing the beans to rot more at the bottom;
  • Or while the coffee is at sea being transported, it is crammed into imperfectly sealed containers and thus takes on salt water, ruining it permanently;
  • Or it arrives to us roasters in excellent condition, but all it takes is 30 seconds more roasting time or even just 2°C more and the coffee is not enhanced to its full potential;
  • And finally, think how terrible it is if all the steps have been executed flawlessly to get to the bartender, who is tasked with extracting it, but gets the grind wrong, making it either too bitter and burnt, or watery and flat.

If you are interested in the latter topic, I recommend another article: HOW IMPORTANT IS THE GRINDING OF COFFEE BEANS?

In this way, the work of months and months is ruined in a single second.

Finally, I will also leave you with a couple of data to give you an even better understanding of the size of this industry:
  1. Coffee is the most processed raw material in the world after oil;
  2. And it is the most widely drunk beverage in the world after water.
Here, he thinks that all this, this whole enormous world, is exhausted in the offer of a cup of coffee drunk on the fly for a single euro.
It is something that is jaw-dropping!

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager
Coffee Lover


Martina Mazzoleni

Marketing, E-commerce e Social Media Manager Coffee Lover

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